The objectives are to:

  1. Conduct a nation-wide assessment of county-wide economic impacts of bison re-introduction in contexts of protected grasslands;
  2. Engage with community stakeholders at two study sites in Will County, Illinois and Jasper County, Iowa to assess a regional sense of place and capacity for change;
  3. Determine the tradeoffs residents of the two study sites are willing to make among competing future growth scenarios;
  4. Foster mutual learning and explore ways that stakeholders can adapt to change in response to the results generated in the study.



  1. Develop a county level database on the presence of protected grasslands, presence of bison, and socio-economic well-being over the past three decades in the U.S. We will then carry out an analysis of these data to identify whether bison introductions have had beneficial effects on the surrounding rural communities. Timeline: 2016-2017.
  2. Hold focus groups with stakeholders in two study sites where bison reintroductions have occurred in the context of grassland restoration efforts.  The focus groups will use growth scenarios to facilitate dialogue on regional sense of place, preferences for growth, and identification of stakeholder decision-making forums.  Timeline: 2016
  3. Develop a profile of community resiliency for the two study sites, and include regional indicators of social and economic strengths, level of engagement forums for stakeholders, and extent of regional senses of place. Residents of the two study sites will be sampled and surveyed online and/or by mail to assess community ability to adapt to change.  This profile will provide results of residents’ preferences for future growth, regional sense of place, and engagement in stakeholder forums.  Timeline: 2017-2018
  4. Enhance community resiliency for stakeholders of two study sites by supporting planning workshops for mutual learning about social and economic development related to bison re-introduction and associated landscape change, and provide a space for reflection of relevant results to the communities of the study sites. Timeline: 2018-19